500mhz Atom compute module for $50 ?

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wgarvin
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500mhz Atom compute module for $50 ?

Post by wgarvin » Sat May 23, 2015 1:39 am

I noticed the other day that Adafruit sells an Intel Edison Compute Module. Its a 500mhz intel Atom with 1GB of memory in a relatively small form factor, meant for use in embedded projects that require more compute power than the usual microcontrollers can provide. It has wireless, but I'm not sure how to hook up wired Ethernet to it. Anyhoo..

I'm not crazy enough to try and do it, but it did occur to me that it might be interesting to get, e.g. 64 of these and try to build a dedicated chess machine out of them.

Though I guess these days, you'd get more bang for your buck from a Phi coprocessor PCI card, which is same order of magnitude cost. oh well. =)

matthewlai
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Re: 500mhz Atom compute module for $50 ?

Post by matthewlai » Sat May 23, 2015 9:52 am

wgarvin wrote:I noticed the other day that Adafruit sells an Intel Edison Compute Module. Its a 500mhz intel Atom with 1GB of memory in a relatively small form factor, meant for use in embedded projects that require more compute power than the usual microcontrollers can provide. It has wireless, but I'm not sure how to hook up wired Ethernet to it. Anyhoo..

I'm not crazy enough to try and do it, but it did occur to me that it might be interesting to get, e.g. 64 of these and try to build a dedicated chess machine out of them.

Though I guess these days, you'd get more bang for your buck from a Phi coprocessor PCI card, which is same order of magnitude cost. oh well. =)
Not really worth it for $/perf.

An Atom has about 1/2 the instruction per clock of a recent Intel desktop CPU, so a 500 MHz Atom would be roughly equivalent to 1 core of a 250 MHz Haswell for example.

You can get a i5-4690k (3.5 GHz quad) for about $230 (maybe $400 including motherboard and memory). That's equivalent to about 56 Atoms assuming linear scaling. Of course, as we all know, scaling is never linear. In reality, a single i5-4690k will be much faster than 56 Atoms.
Disclosure: I work for DeepMind on the AlphaZero project, but everything I say here is personal opinion and does not reflect the views of DeepMind / Alphabet.

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sje
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Testing shows

Post by sje » Sat May 23, 2015 10:36 am

For a multithreaded bitboard program:

A single 3.0 GHz Core i7-5860X = 65.6 x 1.6 GHz Atom

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sje
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Edison

Post by sje » Sat May 23, 2015 11:27 am

SparkFun also sells many (all?) of the Edison boards and blocks. See: https://www.sparkfun.com/categories/272

Edison is just one of the boards I researched for utilization in a multiple CPU chess processor. Basically, it's a nice board but it just doesn't have enough power compared to other similarly priced boards.

Indeed, until some of these US$30 to US$60 boards start offering 64 bit CPUs, they will likely remain non-competitive with desktop systems for throughput value.

The new 900 MHz Raspberry Pi model B2 quad core plus a required SD card is less expensive than an Edison and has more throughput. But that board also is limited to 100 Mbps Ethernet speed and so will place inter-thread/inter-process communications restrictions on any program compared to a program running on a multicore desktop CPU.

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